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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
Number of posts: 8,842

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LET'S PLAY A GAME!!!! (Let's see who can get it right!!)

New York state has posted samples of this year's standardized ELA and math tests for grades 3-8. I visited the site and decided to play a game with my fellow DU'ers. I am going to give you a sample of text. You guess on the poll which grade level you think this text is for. This is not a trick question, I would just like your honest assessment of what age would be reading this text from Tolstoy. Then I will provide a link with the answer. PLEASE DO NOT COMMENT IN THIS THREAD, UNLESS TO KICK IT. You may comment on the answer thread. We don't want to give away the answer. I am only posting the reading material in this thread, not the questions. (Keep in mind, the test is timed and there is a whole booklet of reading excerpts comparable to this sample followed by multiple choice questions.)

Oh! And one more thing. The results of these standardized tests now count toward 50% of a teacher's evaluation in NY. No pressure.

Okay! Is everybody ready?

Here's the text:

The Gray Hare
by Leo Tolstoy

A gray hare was living in the winter near the village. When night came, he pricked one ear and listened; then he pricked his second ear, moved his whiskers, sniffed, and sat down on his hind legs. Then he took a leap or two over the deep snow, and again sat down on his hind legs, and looked around him. Nothing could be seen but snow. The snow lay in waves and glistened like sugar. Over the hare’s head hovered a frost vapor, and through this vapor could be seen the large, bright stars.

The hare had to cross the highway, in order to come to a threshing-floor he knew of. On the highway the runners could be heard squeaking, and the horses snorting, and seats creaking in the sleighs.

The hare again stopped near the road. Peasants were walking beside the sleighs, and the collars of their caftans were raised. Their faces were scarcely visible. Their beards, moustaches, and eyelashes were white. Steam rose from their mouths and noses. Their horses were sweaty, and the hoarfrost clung to the sweat. The horses jostled under their arches, and dived in and out of snow-drifts. The peasants ran behind the horses and in front of them, and beat them with their whips. Two peasants walked beside each other, and one of them told the other how a horse of his had once been stolen.

When the carts passed by, the hare leaped across the road and softly made for the threshing-floor. A dog saw the hare from a cart. He began to bark and darted after the hare. The hare leaped toward the threshing-floor over the snow-drifts, which held him back; but the dog stuck fast in the snow after the tenth leap, and stopped. Then the hare, too, stopped and sat up on his hind legs, and then softly went on to the threshing-floor.

On his way he met two other hares on the sowed winter field. They were feeding and playing. The hare played awhile with his companions, dug away the frosty snow with them, ate the wintergreen, and went on. In the village everything was quiet; the fires were out. All one could hear was a baby’s cry in a hut and the crackling of the frost in the logs of the cabins. The hare went to the threshing-floor, and there found some companions. He played awhile with them on the cleared floor, ate some oats from the open granary, climbed on the kiln over the snow-covered roof, and across the wicker fence started back to his ravine.

The dawn was glimmering in the east; the stars grew less, and the frost vapors rose more densely from the earth. In the near-by village the women got up, and went to fetch water; the peasants brought the feed from the barn; the children shouted and cried. There were still more carts going down the road, and the peasants talked aloud to each other. The hare leaped across the road, went up to his old lair, picked out a high place, dug away the snow, lay with his back in his new lair, dropped his ears on his back, and fell asleep with open eyes.

Which grade level do you think this reading material is representive of?

The correct answer can be found at this link: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026475198

AND THE ANSWER IS...(Do not open this thread until you have opened the thread "Let's play a game")


That's right. NYS believes Leo Tolstoy is 3rd grade reading material.

Here are the corresponding questions:

Why does the hare stop at the road?
A He is afraid of a dog.
B He is waiting for carts to go by.
C He cannot remember where he wants to go.
D He wants to play with other hares.
Key: B

Based on the story, which two words best describe the hare?
A sad and lonely
B funny and loud
C careful and playful
D lazy and unwise
Key: C

In which scene does the hare reach his goal for the day?
A when he watches peasants on the road
B when he plays with other hares in the fields
C when he eats on the threshing-floor
D when he outruns the dog
Key: C

Read the following sentence from the first paragraph:
“The snow lay in waves and glistened like sugar.”
The author uses the word sugar to show that
A the hare was thinking about food
B the snow looked sparkly
C sugar was on the snow
D the snow tasted sweet
Key: B

Then the third grader moves on to the next reading excerpt from nasa.gov about soil...(sigh)

Please discuss.

On Edit: The real purpose of posting this game is to show how ridiculous this testing has become. Starting this year, a whopping 50% of the teacher's performance evaluation is now based on the results of these tests. Even if a person could read at this level in the 3rd grade, is it truly representative of the average third grader? I think not. These tests have huge impacts on schools, teachers, school funding and, ultimately, though indirectly, the children.



Statements from Amanda Knox, her family
Published 3:18 pm, Friday, March 27, 2015

Amanda Knox released this statement through an attorney on Friday after Italy's high court overturned the murder conviction against her:

I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy.
The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this
ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family,
friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your
kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in

The attorney also released this statement from her family:

We want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda
and our family. Countless people – from world-renowned DNA experts, to former FBI
agents, to everyday citizens committed to justice – have spoken about her innocence.
We are thrilled with and grateful for today's decision from the Supreme Court of Italy.
And we are grateful beyond measure for all that so many of you have done for her.


Andrea Vogt ‏@andreavogt 4m4 minutes ago Rome, Lazio
#amandaknox convictions have been completely overturned. She is a free woman.

CNN is now reporting that there will not be a retrial. They are free.

More at HuffPo:

Italian Court Overturns Amanda Knox's Murder Conviction
Posted: 03/27/2015 5:45 pm EDT Updated: 3 minutes ago

Italy's highest court on Friday overturned the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The court acquitted Knox and Sollecito in the murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student who was found dead in the home she shared with Knox and two other roommates in the Italian city of Perugia.

In November 2007, Meredith Kercher was discovered stabbed in the neck on her bed in the Perugia apartment. Investigators alleged that Knox, then 20 years old, and Sollecito killed Kerchner along with Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast national raised in Perugia. Knox and Sollecito have always maintained their innocence.

This is the second time Italy's highest court has looked at the case, and the verdict ends a long series of legal twists and turns...


Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France

Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France
March 25, 2015

PARIS — As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down...”

MORE AT: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/world/europe/germanwings-airbus-crash.html?_r=0

***SHOCKING REALITY*** Global Warming and California Drought - 5 images from 5 consecutive years

(I hope there isn't too much flickering going on here. I usually despise too many gifs on one page; but these are both relevant.)

Lack of Snow at Yosemite's Half Dome Captures California Drought in 5 Photos
By Zain Haidar
Published Mar 24 2015 10:50 AM EDT

The snapshots in the GIF above were taken from a Yosemite Conservancy Half Dome webcam in late March, starting in 2011 and ending in 2015. Typically around the start of spring, Yosemite's Half Dome is covered in snow. As the years pass, you can see the snowpack fade into the background as the drought takes its toll.

Below are images from the U.S. Drought Monitor that show the state's conditions around the same time the Half Dome pictures were captured. The darker the colors, the more severe the drought. You can see Half Dome, marked by the blue dot, become swallowed by maroon at the end, signalling takeover by exceptional drought.


Side-By-Side Photo Shows Hypocrisy Of Suggesting Women Should Breastfeed In The Bathroom

Side-By-Side Photo Shows Hypocrisy Of Suggesting Women Should Breastfeed In The Bathroom
The Huffington Post | By Caroline Bologna
Posted: 03/10/2015 3:44 pm EDT Updated: 03/10/2015 5:59 pm EDT

When Israeli photographer and mom Tamar Shugert saw 52Frames' "Make A Statement" photo challenge, she knew exactly which topic she wanted to cover for her entry: respect for breastfeeding mothers.

The mom-of-two (and soon-to-be three) told The Huffington Post that although she's never experienced disrespect several friends of hers have been asked to relocate to the bathroom when breastfeeding in public places.

Shugert submitted a side-by-side photo collage -- in one photo, she pretends to breastfeed in her bathroom, and in the other, her husband poses eating spaghetti in the same bathroom. The caption reads in part, "If you are not willing to eat your lunch in the bathroom, then don't expect me to feed my kid there!"...

...Still, the mom hopes viewers can agree with the photo's main message. "Women should not be asked to go feed their children in bathrooms," she said, adding. "Nobody wants to be eating in bathroom. I wouldn't breastfeed in a bathroom even if I was asked to."


AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians

Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:37 AM PDT
AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians
by Assaf

In my last diary a couple of weeks ago, I promised to be more "in your face", writing more regularly about Gaza rather than wait for the next round of mayhem or warfare. Since then I've been a bit under the weather. Still, it's important to me to put in a Gaza diary before the much-hyped Israeli election completely takes over (I will likely write about it as well). It will be short.

I'm following up on the AP investigative report briefly mentioned last diary. AP looked into Palestinian deaths from air bombings during the summer 2014 war. What they found is sobering (emphases mine).

Manar Majed al-Batsh, 13 years old, was killed on Sunday, July 12, 2014 in Shujaiyya. She was killed along with 17 other members of the al-Batsh family, by an Israeli warplane that hit their house, without prior warning.

The youngest to die was a 4-day-old girl, the oldest a 92-year-old man.

They were among at least 844 Palestinians killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer war with the Islamic militant group, Hamas.

Under the rules of war, homes are considered protected civilian sites unless used for military purposes. Israel says it attacked only legitimate targets, alleging militants used the houses to hide weapons, fighters and command centers. Palestinians say Israel's warplanes often struck without regard for civilians.

The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes on homes, interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count. The review found that 508 of the dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians. Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group tracking militants among the dead said it has no evidence women participated in combat.

The AP count also showed that:

— Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.

— In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.

— Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants — or just over 11 percent of the total — though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.

The remainder of the 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in connection with militant groups on searches of websites or on street posters honoring fighters.

The review was the most painstaking attempt to date to determine who was killed in strikes on homes in the Gaza war even as Israel's army and Gaza militants have refused to release information about targets and casualties. The count tracked all known airstrikes, but not all strikes had witnesses and damage at sites inspected by the AP wasn't always conclusive.

Making the conservative assumption that in the tight-knit, everybody-knows-everybody Gaza Strip at least half of males aged 16-59 who were not mentioned anywhere as militant-related, were indeed civilians, this means 75%-90% of the air-bombing deaths were civilians. And this is the more precise part of Israel's bombing campaign. The civilian damage from the far less precise ground artillery, used heavily once the ground assault started, was likely worse.

All around the world, armies prefer not to be scrutinized after killing civilians. The governments who sent them will do everything to perpetuate the fog of war, and throw spins of doubt and ridicule at reports like this, until the world forgets.

As my previous post stated, sadly, seems like Israel is in a "great" position to once again completely escape accountability for yet another deluge of civilian deaths. Much of the region is mired in far bloodier mayhem; geopolitically the Palestinians are as weak as ever; Israel itself is obsessed with its election campaign, in which - as I wrote there - Gaza is rarely mentioned, and even when it does it's from a militarist perspective; and the Western press (AP's surprisingly honorable effort notwithstanding) is focusing on other topics.

But these people really did die, at least 1500 civilian deaths from this war that were completely needless.

Summer 2014: 3-week-old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim Al-Ghoul of Rafah. Mustafa was killed shortly thereafter by an Israeli airstrike, together with his dad, grandparents, 2 brothers and 3 uncles and aunts.

9 members of the Al-Ghoul family were killed on Sunday August 3, 2014 in an Israeli airstrike on their home in the Yibna neighborhood of Rafah refugee camp, around 6:20 AM. They were targeted by two F-16 missiles.

1. Ismail Al-Ghoul, 60 years old, was the father of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
2. Khadra Al-Ghoul, 62 years old, was Ismail’s wife and the mother of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
3. Asmaa Al-Ghoul, 22 years old
4. Hanadi Al-Ghoul, 28 years old
5. Muhammad Al-Ghoul, 32 years old
6. Wael Al-Ghoul, 35 years old, was the father of Ismail, Malak, Mustafa and Ibrahim
7. Ismail Wael Al-Ghoul, 11 years old
8. Malak Wael Al-Ghoul, 5 years old
9. Mustafa Wael Al-Ghoul, 24 days old

3-week old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim were born during Israel’s offensive on Gaza in Summer 2014. When the twins were born, a family member wrote: “In Gaza, there is always hope and new life. A door of light and happiness in the middle of this war.” They were described as “two tiny angels, harbingers of hope and joy.”

Following their death, extended family member Asmaa Al-Ghoul wrote

“Endings are so strange, as are living moments that suddenly become relegated to the past. We will never see them again, and the pictures that I took of the twins are now so precious, as one of them, Mustafa, was killed, while the other, Ibrahim, remained alive.

I wonder how they could differentiate between them, for they looked so much alike. Who identified them when their father died and their mother lay wounded in intensive care? Who was Mustafa, and who was Ibrahim? It was as if they had merged upon one twin’s death.”

For much of the war, Israeli propaganda was very busy boasting its superb intelligence services and precision bombing technology, and its meticulous warnings to affected civilians ahead of airstrikes. Then, as it became impossible to deny that the vast majority of deaths are civilians, the very same propaganda turned around and whined that Hamas is hiding among the civilians, and is therefore at fault.

Excuse me? This second spin is admission that

1. Israel's intelligence indicating where and when to bomb, and its warning system, were an abject failure.
2. If indeed, the bombing's sole purpose was to take out Hamas military capabilities, then not only was the bombing itself a failure - but Israel's military has zero mechanisms of professional inspection and self-correction in real time. Envision this: the air bombing campaign - using, let us not forget, US-made warplanes and US-made bombs bought with billions of US taxpayer dollars - lasted 50 days, killing mostly civilians while Hamas retained its ability to launch rockets and mortars and carry out other military operations. And the geniuses of the Israeli military never caught onto their futility and tried to correct it?
3. This of course means that the Israeli propaganda during most of the war, about "precision" and "superb intelligence" was all lies.

Either that, or perhaps avoiding the killing of Palestinian civilians was nowhere near the top of the military's priorities list. Still means the intelligence operations were largely a sham, but at least a sham consistent with the war's actual directives, namely to perpetrate some perverse version of "Shock and Awe".

Given the rhetoric and mindset that accompanied this war's prosecution, unless your head is still buried in the sand this conclusion should come and no surprise.

You can see personal stories of many of the war's dead, on HumanizePalestine, where the pictures and text above are taken from.


GOP+SAE=Racism (AMAZING editorial cartoon)

Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 08:38 PM PDT
GOP+SAE=Racism (AMAZING editorial cartoon)
by Miscweant

I literally (really literally, not Lindsey Graham "literally") gasped at this cartoon from the Salt Lake City Tribune:

attribution: Salt Lake City Tribune
On a bus ride to hell

In one image, the cartoonist Bagley connects two contemporaneous, seemingly different but intimately connected events and reveals the true, diseased soul of the modern Republican Party.


Inspiring images of over 1000 Muslims forming 'ring of peace' around Oslo synagogue

Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 03:16 PM PST
Inspiring images of over 1000 Muslims forming 'ring of peace' around Oslo synagogue
by Ian ReifowitzFollow

If ever a photo was worth a thousand words

That is a beautiful image. Over the weekend, more than 1000 Muslims gathered to form a ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway. They both offered a human shield—in the best sense of the term—protecting one of the most visibly Jewish locations in their city, and condemned the murder last week of Dan Uzan, a Danish Jew, at a Copenhagen synagogue. That murder was committed by Omar El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, as part of an attack that also included shooting up a forum discussing free speech that featured Lars Vilks, who has been the subject of death threats and even assassination plots for having published cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Although Vilks escaped unharmed, one person attending the forum died. El-Hussein was pursued, shot, and killed by Danish police.

These Oslo Muslims brought a message of peace and tolerance, one that rejects hate. They chanted: "No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia." Zeeshan Abdullah, who helped organize the event, told the Muslims and Jews gathered together outside the synagogue:

"Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that. There are many more peace mongers than warmongers. There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds."

Seeing these images, I can't help but agree...More photos from the event.

Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 03:16 PM PST.
Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.


The Daily Show - Congressman turns THUG - a thing of BEAUTY!!!

(Sorry if this is a dupe. It is a few days old. I haven't had much time for the internet lately, so it may have already made the rounds. Enjoy.)

Florida Representative Turns Thug And DESTROYS Texas During Congress Hearing! Fun
Feb 6, 2015

Alcee Lamar Hastings is the U.S. Representative for Florida. During a recent congress hearing, things between him and a representative from Texas got a little heated and Alcee went total thug. He laid into the Lone Star State, calling it ‘crazy’ and saying he’d never live there and all sorts. And when he’s asked to apologize, he flat out refuses. He might just be the coolest politician you’ve ever seen…

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